I know I should be posting about the Nguzo Saba (Seven Principles) of Kwanzaa, but after getting partway through the draft, it now feels better write one cohesive entry and post it New Year's Eve. December 31 is the second-to-last day of Kwanzaa, but it is the biggest night of the holiday. It is the night of the karamu celebration feast, where there the family joins together to reflect on the past, give remembrance to those who have passed on, and honor the physical and/or symbolic presence of children who represent the future, which is to be welcomed with hope, faith, and unity.
Depending on the space you're in, you're either thinking something along the lines of "Wow — that's amazing!" or "Whoa — that's heavy." It's a bit of both. The karamu as a whole is a lively time of togetherness and fun, but sandwiched in the middle is the Tamshi la Tambiko (Libation Statement) during which among other things, the names of family and friends who have passed away are read and remembered. The karamu is where time folds in on itself — where past struggles are recognized, present values and efforts are reaffirmed, and the future is looked forward to with belief of renewal.
Kwanzaa is a time of reflection and this season, it is impossible for me to think of the meaning of Kwanzaa and the Nguzo Saba and not think of all of you, my friends inside the computer. I think of our individual and shared journeys along our varied paths of infertility and loss and how Kwanzaa seems to emanate the good that we hope to extract, in whatever ways and in whatever amounts we can, from where we've been and where we are and then use that good as the first foot forward in the new year.
I think of how in this community, we pull together to support, encourage, and abide.
The fact that the timing of this cycle blends with Kwanzaa seems fitting and appropriate. Day one of Kwanzaa is Umoja, which means Unity. Day two of Kwanzaa is Kujichagulia, which means Self-Determination. Today's principle for day three is Ujima, which means collective work and responsibility. I am seeing Kwanzaa in the light of my role as friend and surrogate to Chance and Apollo. We are determined individually and collectively. We are united as a family.
And for our future, I have hope….
I have hope for all of you.
*In Swahili, the literal translation of "harmabee" is "working together for a common purpose." Loosely translated, it means "let's all pull together" and is used both as a call to gather or as a cheer at the end of such a gathering.